Malaysia’s location in the stunning Coral Triangle makes it one of the most beautiful and biodiverse places to dive on Earth. Centrally located in South East Asia, it is divided into two regions – Peninsula Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo – and is an exceptional destination to immerse yourself in nature both above and below the surface. Read on for our Top Five Reasons to get your PADI in Malaysia.
1. The Abundance of Beginner Dive Sites
If you’ve never been scuba diving before, Malaysia is the ideal place to start. Shore dives allow for easy access and depths start from 3 metres / 10 feet, presenting as an easy and comfortable location to learn to dive.
If you’re in Malaysian Borneo, you should try Kapalai Island. Renowned for its small animals and shallow dives, this is a fantastic location for beginners. For a taste of living below the surface, take PADI’s Discover Scuba Diving course. Kapalai’s shallow waters allow the macro fauna to thrive. Blue ring octopuses, stone fish, ghost pipefish, scorpionfish, crocodilefish and lionfish inhabit these warm, shallow waters.
Tioman Island off Peninsula Malaysia is another fantastic shallow dive destination which caters to both scuba divers and snorkeler. An excellent beginner diving spot is Renggis Island which ranges from 6 to 13 metres / 20 to 43 feet in depth. You’re almost guaranteed to encounter giant gropers, turtles, cuttlefish, parrot fish and blacktip reef sharks (don’t worry, they’re friendly!). The variety of easy dive sites on Tioman Island makes it an ideal location to get your PADI Open Water Diver certification and to introduce kids to scuba diving.
2. Breathtaking Biodiversity – Underwater and Above
Malaysia is home to thousands upon thousands of different flora and fauna species, earning it the 12th spot on the National Biodiversity Index. When you visit this extraordinary place, ensure you make time to explore the forests both above and below the surface.
Stunning aquatic flora and fauna is present all year round in Malaysia. Octopuses, giant clams, jawfish, sharks, turtles and seahorses thrive in acres of coral gardens just metres below the surface. The Perhentian Islands, just 21 kilometres / 13 miles north of the Malaysian Peninsular, are home to a large nesting sea turtle population. Not only is this beautiful location a great place to experience these majestic creatures, but also a great way to learn about the plight of endangered marine species and what you can do to help.
Visiting Malaysia doesn’t have to revolve entirely around diving. Malaysian Borneo is home to over 210 mammal species (44 of which are endemic), 420 bird species (37 of which are endemic) and an enormous 15,000 species of plants. In fact, WWF reports up to 1,000 species of fauna can live in a single tree! Sumatran rhinoceroses, Borneo pygmy elephants, sun bears, clouded leopards and orang-utans inhabit Malaysian Borneo and are also some of the most beautiful and endangered species on Earth. If you travel to Malaysia, it is certainly worthwhile visiting Borneo’s rainforests to experience and learn about the importance of these species and the need for their conservation.
3. Exciting Opportunities to Learn a PADI Specialty
WWII resulted in numerous ships being sunk just off Malaysia’s coast. A popular dive destination is the Usukan Wrecks site – three large Japanese ships that were sunk by an American submarine in 1944. These wrecks are between 24 to 44 metres / 78 to 144 feet deep so you’ll need to be PADI Advanced Open Water certified at the minimum. To make the most of your time exploring these wrecks, consider undertaking PADI’s Deep Diver and/or Enriched Air Diver specialties. For newer divers or those who aren’t interested in greater depths, the ‘Sugar Wreck’, located off the Perhentian Islands, is just 12 to 18 metres / 40 to 60 feet deep. It’s a great site for you to gain your PADI Wreck Diver specialty.
Sipidan’s underwater beauty is something you’ll want to tell everyone about. Turtles, barracudas, whitetip reef sharks and parrot fish – it’s hard to remember each marine species you see on a dive! To relive your diving adventures and to be able to show your spoils to family and friends, take PADI’s Digital Underwater Photographer course to learn how to take shots quickly and clearly.
For the more adventurous diver, exploring Sipidan’s labyrinth known as ‘Turtle Tomb’ is guaranteed to get your heart pumping. As you wind your way through the passages, you’ll see stunning stalagmites, moray eels and of course, the ‘tomb’, where so many turtles have travelled to die. Turtle Tomb is the ideal place to attain your PADI Cavern Diver certification – but remember, it’s not for the fainthearted!
4. A Destination for Families
Scuba diving is a great activity to undertake when holidaying with kids. It keeps them active, interested and fills them with knowledge. Kids can start scuba diving from eight years of age and can start their training with PADI’s Bubblemaker course or PADI Seal Team training. Booking your child into one of these courses on your next Malaysian holiday will give them a chance to learn the basics of scuba – learning to breathe underwater and use scuba gear at no more than 2 metres / 7 feet deep – in the professional care and supervision of a PADI Professional. Diving is a great activity to get your kids involved in as it will help develop their environmental awareness and general swimming skills.
Aside from diving, another reason Malaysia is a great destination for families is many resorts typically have kids club facilities, allowing them to socialise, make friends and be entertained with fun activities. As many holiday resorts are located on the coast, water sports are aplenty and kids can also enjoy snorkelling, kayaking and taking boat trips.
Finally, Malaysia’s central location provides divers with easily-accessible dive destinations. Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, is home to one of the world’s busiest airports, hosting tens of thousands of passengers each day. Being so well-serviced by airlines, dive resorts can be easily accessed. In itself, Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful and interesting city, worthy of a stay of its own. Visit Batu Caves, try some banana leaf cuisine and take the elevator up the Petronas Towers (the tallest twin towers in the world).
English is widely spoken in Malaysia and the locals are hospitable. PADI Dive Shops are located all over Malaysia offering you the highest quality scuba diving training. Locate a PADI Dive Shop or read more about dive sites in Malaysia at ScubaEarth.